summer · writing

Tips for Time Management (not ironic coming from me at all)


For us, summer started behind and never caught up. All good things. But there hasn’t been enough watermelon on the porch time.

And I’m tired. Between camps and deadlines and driving 264 miles a day (an exaggeration but that’s how it feels), I’m wishing I had someone to manage my time.

Instead I just made some notes so I’d remember how to do better. Then I blogged them over at one of my other internet homes.

People crack me up when they ask how I “do it all.”

I’m pretty sure if these same people were a fly on my wall, they’d:

a) have full run of the house because I’m too busy to buy a fly swatter.

b) realize pretty quickly, I’m definitely not doing it all.

Read more at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers.

just write life · Recipes · summer · writing

Creative Summer Suppers

3 Creative Summer Suppers

These days supper might be my most creative moment. Four busy summer kids is a lot to handle, making the moments we gather around the table all the more special. Summer cooking is its own lesson in creativity and color, and there’s nothing I love better than the simplicity of yellow squash and green zucchini tossed with a sliced onion and sizzling in my cast iron skillet… Read more.

Sharing simple creative summer suppers over at Soulful Ink today. Join me there?

summer · writing

On Camping Despite the Rain

IMG_2137We camped. It rained. Again.

I don’t know why I continue to put myself through this.

Truthfully, I think I wanted to hide from cell phone service for a couple of days. There’s a gap up in our mountains with a swimming lake and a jumping dock and a two mile radius before phones register any outside world. We went there even though two days is hardly worth the trouble and the forecast featured lightning bolts.

I went for the quiet. No texts. No emails. No notifications.

But the woods are not quiet. Birds trill their morning songs and streams rush and tree canopies plop raindrops even when the monsoon has passed. Drippy tent rainflies and wet towels and long legged spiders who crawl across the breakfast dishes uninvited do not make my escape peaceful.

But the woods are simple and I was seeking that. There are no choices beyond what’s in the cooler or the kitchen box or the pack of clean clothes. There are fewer decisions and fewer distractions.

Yet, the rain still came down hard and the shelter didn’t always hold.

There’s a lot of prep work that goes into camping or a vacation or publishing a book. There’s a lot of thinking through the “what ifs” and the “how tos” and the “maybe this.” There’s a lot of rigging that ties off a tarp that might keep the rain from drowning the picnic basket but sacrifices all the dry towels.

Fact is, sometimes the rain comes down and shakes the shelter and you get wet despite all the preparations. Sometimes, there’s not even enough time to seek the shelter before you’re soaked to the bone and forming a puddle of your own.

I’m puddling a lot lately. Soaked to the bone.

I keep waiting to be told what to do next. Which agent to submit to. Which marketing trend to follow. Which interview to give.

I’m tying up my shelter, expecting the high and dry when truth is, the rain comes no matter how secure the knots. And the question is–when I get wet, do I rush for the place that’s dry and safe?

Or do I look for the lesson in the rain?

As long as you’re reading, I’ll keep looking.  Maybe we’ll find the answer together.


Life here isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but it isn’t all thunderstorms and clouds either. It’s a healthy mix of hard and easy, simple and complex, praise and criticism. I hope. My little space here is evolving with my career, and I’d love you to join me in the journey by subscribing to my monthly-ish newsletter, following my author Facebook page, or please consider purchasing my debut novel, Still Waters. The book just received a 4-star review from the Romantic Times. For that moment, I came out and danced in the rain. 


favorite things · summer

When You’re Finally Able to Really Rest {Some Recommendations}

I think every blogger I follow is writing on rest right now. Rest and saying yest to whatever plan God may have up His sleeve for you next.

I’m not going to talk about that right now. Mostly because I haven’t really had any rest lately and we’re just in a season where it seems that I have to get what I can, when I can, however I can and accept that right now God’s plan for me may look like chaos to every one else.

I’m okay with that because I know we’re going to work through this busy season and a period of quiet, intentional work is coming.

That being said, we are done (DONE!!!) with The King and I at the community theater. It was great fun and my first experience being in a big musical, but I don’t think we will do another summer play any time soon. Or a Christmas play either, for that matter. However, Madelynne was cast for Alice in Wonderland this October, and I’ll be directing again in the spring (Thornton Wilder’s Our Town–hearkening back to 11th grade literature), so we’re not really on a theater break at all. It’s fun, though, and I’ve always seen this as a place where we can serve and use the gifts God has given us in unique ways.

The advantage to being part of the ensemble in a big show is that I got lots of down time backstage. So I took along my ipad and finally got around to reading some of the great ebooks I purchased through the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle last year. Oh my word–so much goodness! (And so much fluff, too. Honestly, some of those books made me wonder why I haven’t taken the plunge and written an ebook yet because they were 30 simple pages of tips I already know. But the bundle was still worth it because the good ones were so, so good.)

My favorite backstage reads are hopefully going to help me give my days some more structure AND flexibility. If you’re looking for a great book on intentional motherhood, I’m recommending Steady Days for Jamie’s simple, practical approach to mothering. Yes, there’s emphasis on “routine” which is something I’ve always struggled with because I want to be that spontaneous, fun mom who isn’t bogged down by what has to be done between certain chunks of time, but let’s be honest. A routine is something we all have–even when we say we don’t. I like that I can take some of her ideas and suggestions and maximize them for my family and my needs. Plus, I’m getting focused on writing as an income source and in order to do that, I have to carve out intentional time. Another plus for having a steady day with a simple routine that we can all live with. You can read more about this over at Steady Mom.

I also delved into some crazy cooking goodness with Kitchen Stewardship. Her book Healthy Lunches: Sandwich Free Secrets to Packing a Real Food Lunch has inspired me to think outside the standard ham&mayo combo that my kids eat almost everyday we pack lunch (they get to choose school lunch once a week, it’s a cost effective, nutrition concern, keep the peace decision). I enjoyed the book so much that last Saturday when I spent the night in the hospital with my grandmother, I stayed up way too late reading recipes and interesting perspectives on real food. We’re not totally on the bandwagon (this week there was a meltdown when I tried to suggest something other than Aunt Jemima syrup on the waffles), but I do think we already make pretty good decisions involving what we eat around here. But we could always do better, and with my sister’s and nephew’s recent diagnosis of allergies and ulcerative colitis, I’m wanting to up my repertoire of foods I can serve when they’re here so Ash doesn’t have to worry about dairy-egg-soy-gluten making them sick. If you’re interested in any of Katie’s great books, I encourage you to check them out here and visit her site. Today she’s giving away a $100 lunch package to make lunch packing fun on even the most hectic of mornings.

Finally, as our first week of school post-play is winding down, I’m trying to re-establish my Sacred Hour. It’s been challenging with Gus and Amelia crawling into bed with us the past few nights at 4 a.m. (not sure if this new room situation is working or not), but I’m committed to getting back in the Word. I know now that I am never going to reach some great spiritual plateu and get to consider myself a graduate of understanding the great grace that is Christ, but I also believe fully that the more time I spend in the Word God has given us, the better I will come to know Him and have peace with things I just cannot understand. One of my favorite devotionals right now (and what I’m using until Good Morning Girls kicks off) is the Jesus Calling devotional app. If you have not read any of Jesus Calling I highly recommend the app or this beautiful hard copy from DaySpring. And if you follow me on twitter, you might notice that I’m trying to regularly post a line or two that speaks to me each day.

It’s such a simple little book with enormous capability to point me back to the living Word of God. Which is where I always find my best rest. Oh, and by the way, stop back Monday for a link to all of the Jesus Calling collection at DaySpring and a great coupon code!

So tell me–what are some of your recommendations for establishing routines, packing school lunch, and having a quiet time? I’d love to read about what works for you in the comments below. Or you can find me on Facebook and join the conversation there!

Coming Next Week:
A Trip to LeConte Lodge
One Family’s Story of How They Didn’t Grocery Shop for a Month
A Reflection on Depression

Pretty sure it’s impossible to keep up with my sporadic posting? You can always subscribe via email. Put your address in that little box under my picture. Easy.

living local · summer

Why That South Carolina Low Country is Home Too

This is a repost I wrote two summers ago. Over the past week Edisto Beach suffered extensive damage in the wake of Hurricane Matthew because it did what it does best–provided a barrier. You can view photos of how the beach fared on Facebook Edisto Beach Police Department. Much gratefulness to those who serve the locals of Edisto and those of us who borrow that title whenever we can.


I like to write about living local. So much so that it was my 31 Days series this past fall. (Anyone already gearing up for that? Yeah, me neither.) I write about places to go and eat and how to support local small businesses because it’s a topic my husband and I are passionate about. Also, I just really love to get out of the house and explore. Keeps my kids from fighting over electronic devices.

So I write a lot about living local here in northeast Georgia even though I’m technically a transplant to this place. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. How something about a place will continue to shape our character and decisions long after we’ve left it. How you can belong to a place in zipcode and phone record but never really belong, never really feel a part of the intricate web of history and geneology that so pervades small southern towns.

I’m glad I live here, belong here, am raising my family here. My blood connection to these woods and blue ridges lies with my grandfather who loved a campfire and hot coffee with almost the same intensity that he loved my grandmother. But even so, sixty-plus years of fall camping trips at the secret Walnut Tree isn’t the same as having been born into this place and these people. I get the history but not the lineage.

Then, after a six year hiatus, my family heads back down the coast to sleepy Edisto Island on the edge of the South Carolina low country. I grew up riding the waves and scraping the shells out of my swimsuit on this beach that’s like a portal to another time. My mother grew up coming here after the tobacco had been hung to dry in the barns and school was near on the horizon. I’m writing a novel that’s set on these shores and dirt roads hung with Spanish moss. So it’s more than just a vacation destination. It’s as much home as the Granite Capitol that raised me and the mountains that hold me now.



But I didn’t realize that until I’d been gone and returned to be saddened by the changes and heartened by all that stayed the same. We rode bikes in the evening twilight and bashed our knees in the high tide waves. We hunted snail shells and sharks’ teeth and the elusive sand dollar. We set up canopies and played all day.


We bought a book that could have been written about my family.

The Pink House, by Kate Salley Palmer

We shared this favorite place with friends and popsicles and Independence Day.

One day I rode my bike down Pointe Street in search of two older beach cottages the local historian said would help me visualize the Edisto of my mother’s childhood. There was a woman tending tomatoes and flowers in the raised beds of a community garden in someone’s front yard, and I stopped to ask her a few questions about living here.

Tivoli Cottage, Edisto Beach
“Where you from, honey?” was her iconic greeting.

I told her where we live and added that I’d grown up coming here and my grandparents had been from nearby Walterboro.

“Oh,” she said with an easy wave of her hand. “You’re local then.”

Local indeed. And grateful for it.